I am, by nature, a very lazy person. If you told me I could stay in bed all day, I’d be happy as Barack Obama the day after the elections. The idea of just lolling around with the day stretching ahead, and with nothing to do except perhaps lie there and exercise my arm stretching for the TV remote control…well, that’s just as blissful as ice-cream on a hot afternoon.
The reality, of course, is that I’m always running around, trying to tick everything on my To-Do list. Pick up the dry cleaning. Interview someone. Get groceries. Post a letter. Meet deadline. Pay some bills. Watch ‘Downton Abbey’.
It’s just grueling.
And these days, I also have to fit in a session of zumba.
Those of you out there who were born in a year beginning with ‘2’ will not remember this, but there was a time when aerobics was all anyone could talk about. My mother still curses whenever she thinks of all that time she spent squeezed into a pink leotard with purple leggings doing knee lifts and bicycle curls with Jane Fonda.
“So humiliating!” she now says. “All that undignified sweating and pain, and for what? I just made that woman richer by buying all her stupid exercise videos going for the stupid burn!”
And then there was a period in the 90s when everyone was doing Pilates or yoga.
Again, my mother: “Can someone please explain to me the point of a downward dog? I get dizzy and my hair goes everywhere! And what sort of a name is that to give to a posture?”
So, when I told her that Saffy had signed us all up for Zumba classes, she all but snorted into her mai-tai. “You people are crazy!” she said maternally. “Everyone looks like they’re having an epileptic fit! It’s worse than that Macarena!”
“Excuse me, but may I remind you that you adore the Macarena? You and Daddy tore up the dance-floor at Cousin Sue’s wedding!”
“I don’t know what…”
“There is video evidence!”
“We were drunk!”
“I love your mother,” Saffy later said as we turned up for our Zumba class. “Underneath all those pearls and cloud of Chanel No.5, she’s just like me!”
“Why am I here?” I asked as I edged myself to the back of the class.
“Because it’s the best fun I’ve had in ages in a vertical position!” said Saffy as she stretched. “And this is the best spot, so no one can see you make mistakes! But Amanda’s always at the front of the class, she’s such a show off over-achiever!”
The teacher turned out to be this little New Zealand girl whose plumpness did not seem to stop her from moving like a gerbil on speed. She moved from the salsa to the meringay to a Bollywood number at such a clip that at one stage, Saffy gasped that she was about to have a heart attack.
“Come on, you two at the back, stop talking!” Gerbil shouted into her mike as she pranced lightly on her toes. From the front of the class, Amanda’s reflection in the studio mirror gave us a dirty look. Just before the class, she’d given Saffy and me strict instructions not to embarrass her, by which she meant, that we were to pretend we didn’t know her.
Saffy gave Amanda a cheery wave which Amanda later said was totally spiteful.
“That’ll teach you,” Saffy said.
Meanwhile, Gerbil was shouting: “Salsa to the left, salsa to the right! Now, single, single, double, double! Single, single, double, double!”
So, did I enjoy myself? Not really. I sweated like a pig and I realized that I have no hand-eye coordination which means I was always at least three steps and four beats behind the rest of the class. And because there’s no rest between sets, by the end of a 50 minute class, it feels as if someone just stomped all over your heart in five inch heels.
“That was such fun!” Amanda said as she gently dabbed the sheen of moisture from her forehead.
“I feel sick!” I moaned.
“Are there doors on the shower cubicles in this gym?” Saffy wanted to know as she vigorously rubbed her towel under one armpit, then the other. “Because, lemme tell you, there were some girls in this class that I do not want to see naked!”
Amanda turned away and as she wandered off, you could hear her mutter, “And this is why I don’t know you people!”
Saffy says she wants to do a Gangnam class next.
There are days when I really should just stay in bed.